17 August 2012

The William Westley's

Image of St. Philip's church and surrounding area, with the Square set
into the top left corner. 1732.

William Westley senior, c. 1675-c. 1731, carpenter & joiner. William Westley junior, c. 1700-c. 1779, surveyor.

There were two William Westley's, a father and son, both working in Birmingham from the early 1700s.* Most people that we may call architects today were at this time seen as craftspeople, craftspeople who utilised their skills for the designing and building of houses. The elder Westley was a carpenter and joiner who worked on some of the wooden flooring at St. Philip's during that churches construction between 1711 and 1725.* It is thought that he also designed the three storey houses near the church, which can be seen in the distance past St. Philip's church (image above) and the houses of the Square that were begun in 1713, and were part of Birmingham's first planned estate.* It is probably his son who produced the image above as there is some evidence that William Westley senior died in 1731,* unless it was published after the father's death.

It also was most likely William Westley junior who produced Birmingham's first map in 1731, which included his father's built work. The family owned land between Dale End and Steelhouse Lane, the area known as the Priory Estate (the original site of St. Thomas's Priory), and William Westley senior was probably responsible for a number of properties in that area, especially in Westley Row (later Westley Street, then London 'Prentice Street, now demolished). Due to the early period in which these two men worked the information on the built work is sparse, but there is still more information to be gleaned.

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